Frontiers of Democracy: East-Central Europe in Comparison

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

This seminar will focus on comparative analyses of democracies in Central Europe in a contemporary historical perspective. Special attention will be paid to the past 25 years from 1989 to present. We will analyze different theoretical models of democracy, our discussion will include the so-called different „stages” of democracy (such as minimalist, electoral, substantive, consolidated etc.). We shall briefly discuss the nature of the previous, non-democratic regime and we’ll discuss the „transitological optimism” concerning the future of democracy, the processes of institution-building and democratic consolidation. Special attention will be paid to the „Visegrád-countries”. Finally, current empirical problems, the signs of deterioration (deconsolidation, breakdown) and the rise of illiberal democracy, competitive authoritarianism and hybrid regimes will be identified. Besides the discussion of individual cases, we will also focus on intra-regional (and, sometimes, inter-regional) comparisons.

Learning Outcomes: 

At the end, students will be safe in understanding, analysing and explaining major features of political dynamics in Central Europe, in the light of the democracy literature, and in comparing and applying these lessons to other parts of the world.  


Students are expected to attend classes regularly, to read mandatory readings before classes, to be active there, and to write position paper(s) if asked. Secondly, they need to present and article or a problem, and also their final paper before handing it. Finally, a 2000-word-long (one-and-half spaced, without the references) final essay should be written, to be handed by the last class (February 15).  


  • Participation in discussions, written assignments: 30%,
  • Presentations 30%
  • Final essay: 40%.